I trusted her with my children but would not trust her with a conversation about race.

It started with a phone call.

She was applying for a job. I was out of the office, so she called me, and we instantly clicked. She soon became a co-worker and a friend.  We talked and laughed, and I would go to her home and she to mine. A few times, when my husband and I had conflicting schedules, she watched our two young sons. It was a great solution. I knew my children were safe and happy, so I could do what I needed to do without concern.

But even as I trusted her with my children, I did not trust her with a conversation about race.

I admit, I was afraid talking about race would change our friendship. I was afraid a relationship which seemed so strong would become unalterably brittle. I was afraid she would say something I could not forgive and from which we would not recover.

She may have felt the same about me.

What has become clear is that the trust needed to create understanding across difference is much more complex than other kinds of trust. This trust requires all parties to protect the merger of difference and identity – to believe in positive intent over word or action. This is a trust built on the forgiveness of unwitting mistakes and the promise of growth. It is not a trust easily given. Yet, without it, we are mired in our present with no way forward.

I trusted her with my children and then – one day – I trusted her with a conversation around race – and we both became something more.

When your organization’s ready to explore the intersection of difference and identity contact Talent Dimensions to learn from our decades of experience helping clients build powerful, sustainable and inclusive employee growth and development strategies.